When We Should Not Answer the Heretics

While I no longer am a member of the PC(USA) many of my friends, relatives, and colleagues still reside there so I from time to time check into the latest news concerning my former denomination. Recently I came across an article that notes a recent lecture series given at Union Theological Seminary and PSCE in Richmond, VA that tries to say that the …”use of the cross to symbolize God’s love was a latecomer to church history.” Claiming instead that the breast of the Virgin Mary (whom I presume the lecturer does not believe was actually a virgin but that is another discussion for another time) was “…An earlier and presumably more persuasive symbol of God’s love”. Now I cannot imagine that this is true and with a .24-second search on Google one can find it is not true and the only people who do hold to this view are radical Feminist theologians at urban or suburban seminaries. Now this in and of itself does not discredit the theory but what does is basic biblical research. The Apostle Paul in 1 Cor 15 squarely places the cross and love in communion with each other. Now the radical Feminists will say Paul hates women. So next we go to the Apostle Peter in Acts 2:14-39 and surprisingly enough Peter makes the same argument. Though the radical Feminists will say all I am doing is quoting men and of course men would say violent acts are loving. So I guess we’ll go to Anna in Luke 2:36-38. Looks like she is saying the same thing as Paul and Peter. Well I guess Anna must have been brainwashed by Phanuel. So I guess then we’ll go to Jesus in John 15:13. How soon do I forget though that John 15:13 is disputed by the Jesus Seminar. So I guess if we do away with all of that I guess the author of the original article may have a point.

That is of course unless you discount nearly all of the early Church.

All this is to ask the question should we be actively concerned when unbelievers act like unbelievers? When unbelievers are not even average scholars and not even really worthy of sharing the name “heretic” with giants of heretical faith like Pelagius, Marcion, Arius, Schleiermacher, Spinoza, etc…? Do we give them too much credence and legitimacy by confronting them and giving them a larger audience for their views? Dealing with this kind of lousy scholarship and rabid unbelief and giving far too much energy (emotional and physical) personally to engaging with them in seminary I have found it quite relaxing to dealing with authors like this much in the same way I deal with people who clamor like Anti-Government anarchists or like those who claim that Elvis lives with Jim Morrison and John Kennedy on a tropical island in the South Pacific. Prov. 10:7-10 speaks quite clearly and succinctly about what I think concerning this.

Pray for them? Of course. Share with them about the Gospel? Absolutely.

Pay any attention to their ideas and give them any sense of respectability among serious scholarship?

No Thanks.

If You Do Not Believe the Scriptures to be Inerrant or Even Authoritative…

Then why appeal to them at all?

This has something that has always ruffled the feathers a bit. I have never understood why/how logically a person can hold that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were put together by men with an agenda and sometimes men with no real purpose (other than of course to make conservatives look foolish 20 centuries in the future) and yet still when asked why they believe x,y, or z they appeal to the Scriptures as if they have authority.

For example.

Person A is in a discussion with Person B.

Person A is a person arguing for a religious solution from a liberal perspective.

Person B is a person who holds a contrary position.

Let us say they are discussing feeding the poor.

Person A says the Civil Magistrate should redistribute wealth in order to pay for feeding homeless person A and needy person B.

Person A cites Isaiah 1:17 in defense of their position.

Person A believes “Isaiah” was written by as many as 4 different persons (or more) and certainly is post-exilic and was definitely not written by some “prophet” named “Isaiah”. Person A may even believe “Isaiah” was a partisan-piece written for Israelite zealots.

So the question is how can Person A cite Isaiah as in any sense authoritative in making their argument?

Accommodation and Cultural Assimilation

One of the sincerest issues we face as a nation is how best to deal with and understand immigration (both legal and illegal) within the framework of the current development of life in the United States. This certainly is not a new or particularly more complex issue than in times past however what is different is the way America is handling the influx of culturally divergent peoples and how America as a cultural and ideological mind is dealing with the issue. The problem is not primarily one of race, language, or cultural heritage (as America has always seen its immigrants as beneath the cultural median) but it is a problem in how we are assimilating and accommodating the new immigrants.  There has always been a wide plethora of opinion on the age-old question of how best to align the exceedingly diverse nature of the new immigration into the already established culture of the American mind. It is the thesis of this author that the problems with the above mentioned question begin at its base with the fundamental flaw that the American mind is in anyway united around any sense of cohesive thought.

Beyond merely regional differences the American milieu has never been in any sense cohesive. From the early days of Anglican and Catholic war in Virginia and Maryland to Congregational and Baptists in the New England colonies all the way to African-Americans and Klansman in the Midwest and South at no time has their been a interrelatedness to the way we as a nation have operated in the deliberative process of thought.  What some have referred to as the “Melting Pot” of American Society has in my mind developed less like an amalgamation of cultural differences into one gargantuan bowl of violently nasty pudding but has much more in common with a mixed salad with ingredients never meant to associate. We have much pretension towards cultural assimilation and parade our differences as if they were symbols of a bygone era when such things mattered. We have deluded ourselves into orchestrating a blind and fancy parlor game where the participants while all differently dressed and brought in under variant circumstances are thought to inhabit the same reasonable concoction of a game with different rules and different purported outcomes. The only thing keeping them in the room is that each participant believes that they are the ones setting the example for the others to follow.

What does this all have to do with accommodation and assimilation? Through the history of the United States at different moments, some longer than others, each participant in the American experiment have at different times actually been in control of the assimilation process and in fact still believe they are regardless if they actually still have any role whatsoever in directing the movement of ideas and what exactly the pattern of the mixing. The blind have led the blind into this parlor game of assimilation to the point now where the room, which before contained but a few expressions of cultural and linguistic extremes, to now be at the point where the participants have outgrown the room and have yet still believe they are all in control of the process leading to a point where assimilation (if it ever was possible) to be an impossibility.